When I look in the mirror, I don’t see an amazing mom. I see a tired girl. Her hair is tangled, her face is shaped by shadows, and her hair is un-brushed (most of the time). Her thoughts are fragmented, and her throat is always dry. She lives in a desert she doesn’t know how to escape.
I want to be that woman—the one who is confident and on top of it and stunning even while she washes the dishes. Like Mulan in that timeless Disney tale, I want to look in the mirror and see someone worthwhile.
And most days, I’m not measuring up. How do I become stronger, prettier, better?
We’ve been in Texas for three weeks now, long enough for me to realize a million things about myself and the state of my heart that I wish weren’t true. I miss the insanely gorgeous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains, but more than that, I miss me. I’m not fun or pretty or happy anymore.
Want to know the thing I hear most from my husband? “I just want you to be happy.” That sounds shallow, but it’s not. He is saying something profoundly true: he is tired of seeing me worn out, depressed, afraid, and lost. He simply wants me to be happy.
Which is the one thing I can’t deliver.
Why is being happy so dang hard?
Happiness involves settling. Happiness involves turning a blind eye to the things I don’t like about my life, and I don’t want to accept what I’ve got. It’s not good enough. I’m not good enough.
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I’m a mom of a toddler and twin babies, and I’m a 45-minute drive from town. We live in the country, but going outside involves cacti, fire ants, and rattlesnakes. Everything about this situation makes me want to escape.
Discontented thoughts rage beneath the surface, and I’m often consumed by the idea that my life is not enough—but that it should be. That I am not enough—but I am supposed to be. That enough is somehow hiding in a plate of cookies or another TV show or a nice compliment or a productive day.
The myth is we need to find a way to be enough and have enough.
The truth is we are empty and meant to stay that way.
It is actually the way that things feel so wrong that opens up our hearts to the more that He offers. Tell me, why else would God allow us to become parched in the desert unless He meant to fill us up?
I believe God puts us in the desert to help us notice what we’ve been trying to cover up: our emptiness and thirst. The Texas heat has revealed them to me and that has become what I see in the mirror.
But I don’t have to stay that way.
Our emptiness is not meant to send us out on the hunt, trying to fill ourselves up with cookie dough and girls’ nights out, workout routines and perfect meal plans. Here’s the thing: do we want to be filled up, or do we just want to cover up the fact that something is missing?
There is a way to be truly filled, truly worthwhile: make space to be empty.
Allow yourself to not be enough. Accept the fact that you are thirsty.
What if our job isn’t to be the strongest, prettiest, most together woman? What if our job is to be the emptiest we can be, the most accepting of our situation? And in this acceptance, we find that our emptiness is OK. Better than OK, because our emptiness is the best container for all the fullness of God.
I look in the mirror now, and I still notice the flaws: the little shadow under my eyes, the way my nose sticks out, the harsh words that came out of my mouth this morning. But covering me, like a sparkly filter, is the knowledge that God says I’m worthy. And the best part is, I did nothing on my own to achieve this title.
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When you look in the mirror, no amount of makeup or good deeds or confident thoughts can make you a worthwhile woman. So let your emptiness write a new story for you—a story that cannot be rewritten by your failures, and one that can’t be embellished by your successes. God has already decided that you are worthy of being filled.
“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again'” (John 4:13-14).